2015 budget is election budget — Social Watch Phils.
August 1, 2014
The PhP 2.606 trillion national budget for 2015 might be mobilized in preparation for the 2016 elections, with practically half the budget estimated as lump sums and Automatic Appropriations, said Social Watch Philippines Lead Convenor Professor Leonor Magtolis Briones.
In an emailed statement, Briones said: “This is similar to the 2012 budget that preceded the 2013 elections. The government cranks up spending for infrastructure and construction the year before elections. Concrete projects create the impression of growth, though it is a challenge to sustain this growth for the next years.”
Election spending also carries political implications for the officials and parties seeking positions in the government by the next elections.
“In the Philippine politics, elections are all about money. Government spending places incumbent politicians and their parties at an advantage over their opponents for the upcoming elections. Projects are credited to officials as part of their track record as the ruling parties would spend for projects in their allies’ jurisdictions. Opposing parties can be deprived of this spending, putting them at a disadvantage,” explained Briones.
She also relates the spending with the Disbursement Acceleration Program, with 2012 the height of DAP transactions, and lump sum appropriations. Lump sums are budget items that are not detailed, such as the Special Purpose Funds in the General Appropriations Act.
SWP’s assessment of the 2015 Budget reveals that practically almost half of it can be considered lumps due to the lack of details and mechanisms for clear accountability. This makes the funds vulnerable to abuse.
“Only P1.739 trillion is covered by the GAA. The rest are Automatic Appropriations and therefore, not scrutinized by Congress. The President’s Special Purpose Fund is PhP 378.603 billion, the Unprogrammed Expenditures is PhP 123.056 billion, Internal Revenue Allotment is PhP 389.860 billion, interest payments (debt servicing) is PhP 372.863 billion. This does not include Malampaya Funds which is also automatically appropriated, and Off Budget funds like the Motor Vehicles Users’ Charge and those coming from PAGCOR,” continued Briones.
SWS would like to see the government increase the allocations for social development, such as health, education and employment, in place of massive amounts in lump sums. Agencies are required to make regular reports on their expenditures, making transparency and accountability easier to trace and establish.
“The presence of lump sums in the budget, especially for one that precedes the elections, makes public funds all the more vulnerable,” said Briones.